Second Languages -  r1

          A second language is simply a language that other people fluently speak as a native languageMajority languages are all around learners and speakers. Oral native languages are evolutionary designed to be passed down through mother and child. It is biologically primary skill. We are not evolutionary primed to learn a new language . It is biologically primary secondary skill. Strictly speaking children can have two native languages.

     The problem with second languages is that they are generally not understood. A concert pianists needs to practice around 10,000 hours to develop concert standard fluency. They then practice it four hours a day to maintain that fluency. This resembles native language fluency. We are able to accurately apply it at turbo speed.

         There are cheap websites promising to be scientifically researched. Hurd and Murphy  of the Open University contended that :-

    “Often as learners we settled with unrealistic assumptions, some of which had been fostered by the advertising employed by some providers of language learning along the lines of “Learn a language in three weeks!”

      What happens is learners develop a small armoury memory of phrases that they can use to communicate. It gives them a sense of progress, but it does not provide them with secure avenues that will lead towards ever increasing levels of learning success.

      Professor Sarah Eaton, who is a professor of Education in Calgary School of Education:- 

"The challenges of learning another language are immense. There's vocabulary to be acquired, grammar to master and verb conjugations to memorize. All of this information must be internalized, synthesized and then reproduced spontaneously as interactive speech. It's an enormous feat. It's an enormous feat that millions have undertaken. Those who achieve fluency put in lots of hard work.”

and she says :-

Let’s be honest. Learning a language is not easy. There are companies out there who make big bucks selling slick packages with audio programs and pocket books, touting the idea that you can listen to their CDs or MP3s in the car, or on the bus and learn a language…What these companies are selling is hope. They are selling the idea that learning a language is effortless. What is more common is that people struggle. Even Mahatma Gandhi, who was deeply intelligent and patient, confessed to finding it difficult to learn language”       

      There is nothing special about learning any new language. There are 66,000 languages in the world. Certain languages have distinct characteristics like the dreaded mutations in the Welsh Language. Some languages will be easier to learn than others. 

        Professor John Sweller has stated that language cannot be learn through immersion. Gunn (2010) contended that immersion reinforces language learning. When learners learn a language like French in the United Kingdom, for instance, they will be learning a minority language. When the language is learnt in France, they will be learning a majority language. It will much easier for them to learn. It will be all around them.

       The learning  of heritage languages like Welsh, Scottish and Irish, is more complex, because they are minority languages that are only spoken in the country that people live in.  This mean leaners and  speakers are and always will be bilingual language speakers. It would be impossible for Welsh speaker to live every aspect of their everyday life in Welsh, but it would be possible for them to do so if they learnt Freach and went to live there.

          There are around 10% native fluent Welsh speakers in Wales and 1% native Scottish Gaelic speakers in Scotland . The ability to learn and retain any language reflects the language environments they are learnt in and where they can be used. The complication of learning Welsh is that there are range of different dialects that border on being separate languages.

       There has been a master-apprentice view of second language teaching.” I can speak a language and I will show you how to do it” attitude. Learners are often expected to drill phrases like musician practice scales so they can memorise them like parrots. The Welsh Language university academics were applying this through their Wlpan method for forty years. It is what Confucius xxx B.C. referred to as Feed the Duck method of learning.

         Most second languages are learnt through positive language transfer, where the native language is used as a scaffold to learn the second. In the Welsh language, for instance, 'red bus' literally translates into 'bus red', bws Coch.

Positive transfer will be difficult to apply when there are distinct different forms in each language. There is no direct translation in Welsh to the English ‘have', for instance. There is a range of words, terms that are its equivalent in Welsh.

 Most European languages are similar and derive from similar roots and they share a common alphabet. Arabic countries have a distinct alphabet, which is written from right to left, as opposed to left to right, as in western languages. This will make them very difficult to learn.


      Keith Field, who is a leading Q.T.S second Language teaching authority, contended that before the National Curriculum was  introduced that every second language method had been tried. Teaching and learning a second language is cognitively very similar to learning maths. It is an undeveloped basic skill. Well-developed professional teaching skills are needed to teach it effectively.

       We are all inclined automatically believe what you we read or what we are told without pausing to ask whether it is accurate, true or reasonable. 
The reason why native speakers can apply languages at the tip of the tongue and the point of the ears it because it so extremely well practiced and encountered in speakers every lives.  This is why language are applied at turbo speed. 

       Languages need to be lived through they cannot be learnt from websites or on classroom.  The fudamental problem is that native langauge learning starts in the womb and the early post natal experience are where the  phonological roots of languages are grown. Older children and adults cannot jump back into the pram. Unless there are language rich environments for them to grow their languages in then learning new language will be difficult.

        The core of languages are words. Words are facts. Facts are very transient. Even in native language the vocabulary of languages that people are constantly changing. Living language are they are past down through the generations.



References - Further Reading

Coleman and Klapper (2005)

DeKaser (2007) 

Field (2000)

Hurd and  Murphy (2000)xx

Mitchell et al (2019)xxxx

Saville Troike (2006)